The international situation surrounding North Korea is changing rapidly, and recent developments could present the perfect opening to resolve the abduction issue. It goes without saying that complete resolution entails the return of all abductees, and such an opportunity must not be missed.
An Inter-Korean summit meeting is set to take place on April 27, and a United States-North Korea summit is expected to be held before the end of May. As a prelude to the upcoming summits, North Korea leader Kim Jong-un chose China as the destination for his first diplomatic visit, where he held talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping.
Kim Jong-un’s pro-diplomacy posture can be viewed as the result of increased international sanctions on the North due to its nuclear weapons and missile development activities.
While orchestrating the isolation of North Korea, the Abe administration has always prioritized the resolution of the abduction issue, declaring it an issue of the greatest importance. The time has come—not just for words, but for delivering results.
The Association of Families of Victims Kidnapped by North Korea (AFVKN) and members of the victims’ families met with Prime Minister Abe on March 30, asking that he “explain that all abductees must be returned en masse” in his talks with President Trump in April.
Sakie Yokota, the mother of abduction victim Megumi Yokota, said: “This is the last chance to save the abductees. I would like to see Japan, as a country, show the world as soon as possible that the abduction issue has been resolved.”
Prime Minister Abe emphasized that “the abduction issue cannot be left as-is.” He has repeatedly stated, “There is no future for North Korea without resolution of the abduction issue.” I hope that Mr. Trump will be persuaded to say the same phrase to the North’s leader, Kim Jong-un.
Mr. Trump raised the abduction issue at the United Nations General Assembly, severely condemning North Korea and expressing understanding of Japan’s position. During his visit to Japan, he met with the families of abduction victims, promising to contribute his efforts to the rescue of the abductees.
Three Americans are also being unreasonably detained by North Korea. One hopes that in the US-North Korea summit, Mr. Trump will simultaneously pursue the release of his fellow citizens and resolution of the Japanese abduction issue.
The Japanese government should be prepared to move quickly in the event the talks yield information relating to the resolution of the abductions. A Japan-North Korea summit should be considered as a possible option if it would produce a meaningful result.
In such a case, stalling tactics, such as promises to re-investigate, must be rejected outright. A step-by-step resolution of the abduction issue is impossible. The only demand should be the immediate return of all abductees, and sanctions must not be lifted without their return.
(Click here to read the original article in Japanese.)